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Firefighter and former Marine Jackson Wilder has tough guy down to an art, but he’s learned the hard way that promises were made to be broken. Abigail Morgan was once his best friend, his first kiss, his first love, his first everything. He’d just forgotten to mention all that to her and she blew out of his life. Five years later, she’s back and he’s battling a load of mistrust for her disappearing act. But for some reason he just can’t keep his lips—or his hands—to himself.
It can lead to disaster or . . .
When her stint as a trophy wife abruptly ends, Abby returns home to Sweet, Texas, and comes face-to-face with Jackson—her biggest and sexiest mistake. Time and distance did nothing to squash her love for the act-first-think-later stubborn hunk of a man, and when he suggests they renew their old just-friends vow, Abby realizes she wants more. She’d cut and run once. Could she do it again? Or could she tempt him enough to break his promise?
Thank you so much for sitting down with Toot's for an interview. If you don't mind, I have some questions for you about the series Sweet, Texas and your process for our budding authors as well as fans.
Thank you so much for having me here! I’m thrilled for the opportunity to chat with readers about writing or anything regarding Sweet, Texas.
So first off, your newest book is part of the Sweet, Texas series. Let's talk about the series as a whole.
In your own words, what is the Sweet, Texas Series about?
In my head I picture the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” where family and community come together to help (or push) the struggling hero and heroine into the realization that they can’t live without each other. It’s about quirky, lovable characters and a town so inviting you want to pack your bags and move in. And whether it’s about rebuilding that town or rebuilding a life after a tremendous loss, it’s all about love and commitment.
How did you come up with the idea, title of the series and of the current book, Sweetest Mistake?
The series actually started with my novella HOME SWEET HOME in the anthology FOR LOVE AND HONOR in which the hero returns home from war after a tremendous loss. In this story I pictured a town full of young men who volunteered to fight for our country. Some came home. Some came home wounded. Some didn’t come home at all. In the process the Wilder brothers just kind of all came together in my head. The title of the series comes from the name of the town. And the title for the current book actually came from my editor, Amanda Bergeron. I usually throw out some ideas to her and that usually sparks something she puts together that works perfectly.
Can you tell us a bit about the newest book in the series, Sweetest Mistake?
Can I just say it was my most difficult book to write? Ever. In my previous book, ANYTHING BUT SWEET, Jackson Wilder, a former Marine like all the Wilder Brothers and now a firefighter, was a fun guy. That was before he got his boxer-briefs in a twist with his own story. Oh, he’s still fun. And hot as hell. But he is a total alpha male who set himself up for failure because he is so danged hard-headed. He had everything he wanted right in front of him. But he didn’t grab hold and she got away. When she comes back he’s a bit miffed that she blew him off and he’s still not willing (or able) to admit his feelings for her. Abby has loved Jackson forever, but she finally had to admit he was probably never going to love her back. To say these two butt heads is an understatement. But that’s only because there is so much love between them.
How does the new book, Sweetest Mistake, fit into the series?
This is the second book in the series and literally takes up right where ANYTHING BUT SWEET left off.
How many books are planned for the series?
So far I’ve completed three full length books and two novellas. There are still three, maybe even more stories to be told. Sweet may not be a very big town, but it does have a lot of really hot men.
What was your favorite scene to write for your hero or heroine in Sweetest Mistake?
The scene where Abby finally decides she knows what she wants and goes after it. Much to Jackson Wilder’s dismay. I actually giggled when I wrote that scene. Paybacks are a bitch, Jackson. Just sayin’.
What was the hardest scene to write for Sweetest Mistake?
The first time they saw each other again. I had to rewrite it three times. As my editor said after I told her how angry Jackson was upon seeing Abby for the first time in five years, “Just let him go. Let him have his say. We’ll rein him in later.” Yeah. Right. He’s as unpredictable as the fires he fights.
*with a wink* Did anything memorable happen to you, that you wouldn't mind sharing, during the writing of this book?
Well, yes. I actually “retired” from my day job as a graphic designer and began to write full-time. All illusions of grandeur completely disappeared quickly when I realized that more time devoted to Jackson meant longer journeys to Crazyville.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated and what made you decide to pursue it as a career?
I’ve always loved to write. I’ve always been an avid reader but for a long time I never even considered writing a complete book. One day an idea just leaped into my head and off I went. Of course that manuscript was a historical romance that will never see the light of day! I never really thought about pursuing writing as a career, I just liked to tell stories and thought maybe I’d get lucky one day and sell a book. I’ve been very lucky.
What inspires you to put the pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard?
It always starts with a specific character. My books are less plot driven and more character oriented. So I always see the lead character in some kind of situation that spurs the whole idea. Once I see them in their situation I’d feel bad if I just left them hanging.
What are some of the elements in/of your writing process?
Oh, let’s see . . . a lot of four letter words, banging my head on the desk, and getting up and walking around until the rest of a scene comes to me. And coffee. Lots of coffee. Other than that, I do write a pretty complete synopsis for my editor. She and I then talk it over to smooth over any of her initial concerns. Which, by no means, makes the journey any easier. I tend to write really difficult alpha males who are not always agreeable to my ideas.
Are you a Plotter or a Panster?
I’m a fusion of the two. While I do write a synopsis and I do know what points A, B, and C are, I don’t always know how I’m going to get there. For instance, in my next Sweet, Texas, book, SOMETHING SWEETER, a twist came up that completely took me (and my editor) by surprise. So I never really know. My characters kind of have a mind of their own.
Have you released anything under a different pen name, and if so, is there any difference between them?
Nope. I’m just me. Although I’m not ruling that out in the future. I do have a darker side. Just haven’t let that cat out of the cage yet.
Toot is an official Avon Addict and so we'd love to know how you became an Avon author?
Well first of all let me say how much I love and adore the Avon Addicts. From the bottom of my heart I truly appreciate each and every one of you!
For those who haven’t heard my crazy road-to-publication story, it took me 22 years from the day I first planted my fingers on a keyboard and began to write, until the day Avon called. I won’t go into all the mistakes I made along the way but if you’re interested, please corner me at the next gathering and I’m happy to share.
In 2009 I’d literally given up the idea of becoming published. I’d gotten close so many times but even with having an agent, I just never got the call. I love to write and would most likely be stretched out on a psychiatrists couch somewhere if I didn’t. I never intended to stop the storytelling, just the process of trying to become published. I went to a small conference just as a road trip buddy for my friend Rachel Gibson, to share the driving duties and bags of munchies. There I met a new editor for Avon. I hadn’t planned on pitching to anyone as only four chapters on my newest manuscript were done. After her encouragement I pitched without a practiced speech. Just told her the story from my gut. She said she was interested and to send me what I had completed. I wasn’t going to get my hopes up (again) but I went ahead and sent her what I had written. She emailed me and said to send the rest when I finished it. I completed the manuscript in a few months and sent it her way. Then I didn’t hear back for 9 months. I’d completely forgotten about it when I got the call and the offer to be one of the first authors for the new Avon Impulse line. She’d held onto that manuscript for all those months, waiting for an opportunity where she could make an offer. I have to tell you, the faith she had in my story—SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK—means more to me than anything.
SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK became the first book of my Sugar Shack series. I was then asked to be a part of the FOR LOVE AND HONOR anthology with Cathy Maxwell, which took place in Sweet, Texas. I then submitted the idea for my Sweet, Texas series and was beyond thrilled when they made me the first Avon Impulse author to move to mass market. In 2 years time I’ve written 6 full length books and 2 novellas for Avon. Hard work = dream come true.
What's next for you?
I have a Sweet, Texas novella coming out in February 2014. Confessions of a Secret Admirer-A Valentine’s Day anthology with Jennifer Ryan and Jennifer Seasons will include my story, SWEET FORTUNE. After that I have another full-length Sweet, Texas book coming out. Jesse Wilder’s story SOMETHING SWEETER will be out in June 2014.
Now I know this is like asking you to choose between your own children, but out of all your amazing characters, who is your favorite and why?
Hands down it has to be Charli from ANYTHING BUT SWEET. I have never met a more determined woman who was a total blast to write. I admire her tenacity, her wit, and her absolute refusal to give up on the man she loves. I never knew what she was going to say or do next. She kept me on my toes and very often made me snort laugh!
What actor/entertainer do you envision playing your fav in a movie or TV adaption?
Hands down, Rachel McAdams would play Charli Brooks.
Are there any of your stories or characters that hold a special place in your heart?
They all do. Each character has such a different, complex story. They’ve taken me down some really winding roads through heartache, awakening, and sometimes coming to terms with who they really are instead of who they thought they were. Though probably the one who broke my heart the most was Reno Wilder.
If the book or series had to have a theme song, what would it be?
I name a lot of music in my books because those songs are really going through my head when I write a scene and they always speak directly to what’s going on in the scene and set a mood. I can safely say that the theme song for Sweetest Mistake would be Stupid Boy by Keith Urban. Sigh. Jackson Wilder took just waaaay too long to figure things out.
With the holidays fast approaching, if the characters in Sweetest Mistake were to exchange gifts, what would they be and why?
Abby would probably give Jackson a protective bubble so he couldn’t get hurt. And Jackson would probably give Abby a bungee cord so she couldn’t go too far.
Lastly, let's steal an idea from the magazines.....What 5 things do fans not know about you and 5 they don't know about the book?
Five things about me:
1. I recently dumped the blond hair and went back to more my natural color. Unfortunately the hairdresser who first did it went too dark and made me look like Morticia Adams from the Adams family.
2. I once caught a 62 pound king salmon in the Kenai River in Alaska.
3. I am a holiday decorating freak of nature.
4. I love to watch animated movies and have always dreamed of being able to be the voice for an animated character.
5. I do not like to shop.
Five things about the book:
1. The dark moment of the book changed three times.
2. I cried the entire time I wrote the scene between Abby and Jana.
3. There is a reference in the back cover blurb to a part of the story. In the end the part it referenced to was actually cut from the book.
4. My initial revision letter was five pages long.
5. I redefined the prior relationship between Jackson and Abby twice. Yeah. This was a really tough book.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for taking time to answer some questions. Congratulations on the new book and I can't wait for everyone to read it!
Thank you! This was a blast! Some excellent questions that really made me stop and think. I truly hope everyone will enjoy Jackson and Abby’s story. It was quite the experience to write!
~Giveaway~The Ultimate SWEETEST MISTAKE Prize Pack: Including SOMEBODY LIKE YOU, SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK, ANYTHING BUT LOVE, a Sweet TX Mug, Houstan TX Firefighters 2014 Calendar, and My <3 Belongs to a Firefighter Pendant Necklace
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